We can search for any number of explanations to figure out why one of the most cerebral—some say too cerebral—managers in the history of baseball decided to do the bizarre things he did this past weekend.
From wondering whether Bob Brenly‘s presence in the TBS broadcast booth caused Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa to manage like Brenly (something no one wants to do); to asking (and not getting a reasonable answer) as to why he left Kyle Lohse in game 1 to face a series of hitters who have historically destroyed him; to debating the potential residue of shell-shock from the Rick Ankiel debacle in 2000 when the young pitcher lost the ability to throw his fastball for strikes in choosing Chris Carpenter on three days rest in game 2 over a rested Jaime Garcia and leaving Carpenter in when he clearly didn’t have his good stuff—there’s plenty to tear apart.
But as they head back to St. Louis, the seemingly overmatched Cardinals, who scratched their way into the playoffs on the last night of the season, are tied in the series 1-1 with the mighty, 102-win Phillies.
There is no explanation for LaRussa choosing to leave Lohse in game 1 with a 2-run lead and a group of hitters due to bat who have spent their career beating him like he owed them money; nor was there an understandable excuse for leaving Carpenter in game 2 as long as he did.
Resisting pitching Garcia in game 2 in the hostile terrain of Philadelphia in his first post-season start is viable after what happened to Ankiel.
Despite Carpenter’s struggles, the Cardinals got to Cliff Lee; LaRussa’s bullpen—which has been shaky at best all season—was masterful.
As a result, the Cardinals head home with a chance that I didn’t think they had after three innings in game 2.
LaRussa needs to keep doing what he’s doing. Does it matter that he’s been lucky and isn’t outsmarting his opponents? Only to his ego.
This 2011 post-season is taking on a 2006 feel.
You have the heavily favored Rangers running into a group of upstarts, the Rays. Such was the same situation in 2006 as the Twins lost to the Athletics.
There are the reviled, arrogant and overtly obnoxious Brewers taking on the Diamondbacks. Back then it was the hated Mets and the Dodgers.
And the Cardinals had collapsed late in the 2006 season, managed to crawl into the playoffs and regained their footing in shocking fashion to win a championship.
We’re only two games into each series, but the circumstances are there for a repeat of what happened 5 years ago.
It would be as shocking and messy as it was then and equally entertaining.
From my perspective anyway.